Anna Sroczanka was born on April 4th, 1914 r. in Libusza in Podkarpacie. In 1935, she started studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, in the studios of Professors Władysław Jarodzki, Kazimierz Sichulski, Xawery Dunikowski, Stefan Filipkiewicz, Józef Mehoffer and Konrad Srzednicki. She had to give up studying at the outbreak of World War II, and then restart it in 1945, at the same time teaching in a primary school. She graduated in 1946, in the studio of Professor Wojciech Weiss. Got the diploma of painter in 1955 (having passed a special exam). In 1948, she joined the Krakow branch of the Association of Polish Visual Artists. In 1956, she moved to Bydgoszcz, where she died on December 20th, 1991.
(In Bydgoszcz) „…I devoted myself exclusively to creative work, giving up any other professional work. In those days, earning one’s living from creative work was only possible with many sacrifices and while living extremely frugally, so for a few years I decided to run the Small Salon of Art. In 1974, I was awarded the Merit Badge of Culture.
I paint and do graphics art, because both of these disciplines enable me to better express myself. I’m interested in the man and his problems captured in compositions and cycles. I also like landscapes, because for me they are a continuation of communing with nature.” (from the author herself, in the exhibition catalogue, Bureau of Art Exhibitions in Bydgoszcz, 1988)
Anna Sroczanka was the author of some 30 individual exhibitions, participated in numerous local, national and international exhibitions. Her works are in the museum collections in Biecz, Bydgoszcz, Grudziądz, Krosno, Rzeszów, Toruń, Koszalin, Majdanek, as well as in private collections.
On the first anniversary of the death of the artist the Bureau of Art Exhibitions in Bydgoszcz organised a retrospective exhibition, and in 2014, the Museum of the Biecz Region in Biecz organised an exhibition on the 100th anniversary of her birth. This museum also has a permanent exhibition of the works of Anna Sroczanka.
In December this year, there will be the 25th anniversary of the death of the artist who for fifty years was connected with Bydgoszcz, and whose work is already part of the history of art. The exhibition at the Kantorek Gallery will present just a part of the rich artistic achievements of Sroczanka: small in format, but fantastic linocuts, and interesting, abstract temperas (selection from a set of ninety-five works). The exhibition was prepared on the basis of the collections lovingly kept by Anna Piotrowska; niece of the artist.
Memories about my sister
My earliest memories reach back to the days when my sister attended the common school. On the sly, she painted the portraits of all her teachers. She was so good at capturing the likeness, that a glance was enough to recognise the people she painted.
Our flat in a one-floor country house was very small. We spent the time mainly in the relatively large kitchen, around the table on which an oil lamp was put in the evenings. It was enough for someone in the family to sit down for a while to be captured by my sister on a piece of paper.
We escaped from her as soon as we realised she was drawing us, therefore she often painted portraits from memory, and then hid them under the pillow; and there were many of them. Sometimes we stole those drawings to show them to the people concerned, who already then appreciated them a lot.
I noticed that in her free time she used to go to the attic. I spied on her out of curiosity and I realised that she was finding and arranging wooden figures carved by our late grandfather. For her they must have had high value, for us these were just worm-eaten figurines.
She was the eldest of four siblings, didn’t play with us, but was always warm, friendly, caring, ready to care and help. Compassionate and even-tempered, often pensive, sensitive, tight-lipped and extremely hard-working.
She always gladly painted landscapes, flowers and portraits. She was characterised by a reflective attitude, her works were always shining with warmth, delicacy, subtlety. Landscapes were especially close to her temperament. Watching them, I always had the impression that I am among fields and forests, landscapes of childhood full of emotions, honesty, silence, musings and still alive, appealing with all the force. In her dealings with nature she was looking for a specific form of expression, she was always looking for her own creative path, she constantly painted and painted a lot. Far from desire of fame, shining, she showed no signs of the social effusiveness, never imposed herself, although in relations with people she was always friendly and direct.
During the occupation, she taught at secret courses for children and young people from surrounding villages, never gathering any profits from it and, later on, never speaking of this work, believing that helping others is no reason for showing off.
In high school, she was a member of the Sodality of Our Lady and the Riflemen’s Association, for which she had big troubles during the occupation and during the Stalinist period.
She especially loved Krakow and its monuments. She would probably stayed in Krakow after graduation, if it was not for the living conditions and the family which took her to Bydgoszcz. She adapted to the new conditions, liked Bydgoszcz and its surroundings, the nature, silence, scenery.
Always quiet, controlled, and focused, she wanted to paint a lot, but difficult living conditions while studying in Krakow strained her health so much that she never returned to full strength. She sometimes recalled these challenging academic years, in ever changing apartments, the years when once a week she could afford a modest dinner and a delicious dessert in the form of sweetened tea. Parents were not able to help her much, what she received from home was enough only for a very expensive housing (there were no dormitories then) and the most essential learning materials. Only due to her strong will and persistence did my sister not give up on pursuing her goals. Today, it is difficult to describe that hard way walked by the young people who had constant view of life, of honesty; the young people who managed to keep their honour although this was not always fashionable, and even well appreciated. She herself chose the way of truth and honesty. This made her life difficult, but she was always like that.
This is a brief description of my sister: thoroughly honest, always cheerful, very economical, always quiet, devoted to the last moments of her life to creative work. „You have children” she used to say, and then, pointing at her works „these are my children”. She devoted her whole life to them, she lived for them, for them she forgot about her needs, living very modestly, giving every moment to art, which was the joy of her life. She always set high standards for herself. It was her inner need and desire. She didn’t start a family, she chose solitude in order to fill it with work, effort, love and prayer. One has to be able to internally accept solitude. The solitude we don’t accept cannot be filled with anything.
She was able to accept that solitude…
Helena Wolska, doctor of natural sciences
opening of the exhibition: 18.05.2016, 6pm (the Kantorek Gallery)
exhibition open until 24.06.2016